'Prisoners not having Covid vaccine priority is depressing and confusing'

25 February 2021, 16:44 | Updated: 25 February 2021, 16:49

Prisoners not receiving priority status in the Covid vaccination programme is both "depressing and confusing", LBC has been told.
Prisoners not receiving priority status in the Covid vaccination programme is both "depressing and confusing", LBC has been told. Picture: LBC/PA

By Sam Sholli

Prisoners not receiving priority status in the Covid vaccination programme is both "depressing and confusing", the Prison Reform Trust Director has told LBC.

Earlier this week, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is reported to have recommended that prisoners should be mass vaccinated individual prisons.

However, Downing Street has since dismissed speculation that prisoners could be given priority status.

A Number 10 spokesperson said: “One report I read this morning which suggested that we’ll be vaccinating prisoners before other groups within wider society, that’s obviously not the case and is not true.

“Prisoners won’t be prioritised for vaccines. They are vaccinated as the same time as the general public, in line with the JCVI prioritisation group groups. No quicker than that.”

Responding to the Government's decision, Prison Reform Trust Director Peter Dawson told LBC's Shelagh Fogarty: "It's sort of depressing and confusing all at the same time."

He added: "Prisons are dangerous places for disease, especially for this disease. We know that infection rates are high in prisons and they're high amongst prisoners and staff.

"And we know why. They are confined spaces where people have to live and work very close together. So the public health argument is really clear."

Mr Dawson also argued prioritising prisoners made sense from a practical perspective because "if you are sending people into a prison, it's pretty straightforward to do everyone pretty quickly and not to waste any vaccine".